Defending champions Klagenfurt look like the team to beat this season. Same coach, same system, basically the same roster (a slight downgrade on defence, a slight upgrade on offence) and after their recent performances in the Champions Hockey League they should hit the ground running. Other teams have gone through considerable roster changes: Salzburg have released almost all of their Canadian and American players from last year. However, with signings such as Bud Holloway (from Skellefteå) and Chad Kolarik and Brendan Mikkelson (from Adler Mannheim) they should nevertheless be the #1 challenger. Vienna look a bit weakened, having lost not only depth but also key players like Peter Schneider (to Switzerland), Chris DeSousa (to Finland) and JP Lamoureux (to Salzburg) as well as captain Andreas Nödl (retirement). Ty Loney (from Graz) and Mike Zalewski (Cologne) are nice additions, but the other signings haven't had the desired impact yet. Graz have an even more Swedish outlook than last year. Without Matt Caito (to Finland) and Ty Loney (Vienna) they will be hard pressed to repeat last year's sensational run, but with additions from Sweden like Joakim Hillding and Sebastian Collberg they should have enough quality to secure a top 5 spot in the regular season which would secure qualification for the playoffs. Linz can be expected bounce back from the letdown of the last season. They've added Mark McNeill and Mathieu Carle and look fitter and faster than before. But so far they haven't been able to get a lot out of signing Marek Kalus (from Znojmo). Anything but a top-5 finish would be a disappointment. Bolzano have lost several of their best players to richer clubs – as usual. Still, their mix of grinding hockey and clever signings should keep them in the playoff race once again, even though it seems a bit more likely they won't finish in the top 5. Villach have switched to a Finnish coach (Jyrki Aho). With additions such as Patrick Bjorkstrand and Kevin Schmidt the club should definitely improve from last year's inferior record. Dornbirn on their part have turned to an entire team of Finnish coaches and can be expected to improve in the medium run, but at this point their defence is still work in progess. Jordan Subban is an impressive signing though, as is Mathias Bau Hansen at forward. Not sure what to expect from Fehervar, except that they will bleed goals against. They could finish anywhere from 6th to 9th. Znojmo and Innsbruck look like bottom dwellers to me. Znojmo have lost some quality without replacing much of it, while Innsbruck is struggling to ice a competitive team now due to the new restriction on foreign players and financial worries.